Researchers led by Jonathan Alarcón-Muñoz of the University of Chile found bones of pterosaurs in the desert that are more than 100 million years old.
The authors of the work explored the Atacama Desert. The place where most of the remains of flying reptiles were found is in the mountains of Cerros Bravos in the northeast of the desert.
The researchers suggested that about 100 million years ago, in the lower Cretaceous period, there was a zone of the mouth of the river flooded at high tide, which is now called Quebrada Monardes.
The remains belong to pterosaurs – these are prehistoric flying reptiles. Contrary to popular misconception, pterosaurs are not dinosaurs. But they lived nearby. They are believed to have been the most common winged vertebrates of the era, but their remains are relatively infrequent.
Many of the bones were shattered and broken, but the researchers were able to find intact specimens and study them. As a result, they attributed them to Ctenochasmatidae, a family of pterosaurs that, unlike other related families, had the most teeth.
According to the authors, pterosaurs lived massively in the north of modern Chile in the Jurassic period (145-201 million years ago), as well as in the Lower Cretaceous (100-145 million years ago). They also concluded that if so many pterosaurs were concentrated in one place, then they probably created colonies.